90.5 WESA's 'Good Question' Series

We're starting something new at 90.5 WESA. It's an experiment where you bring us questions—and we go out to investigate and find answers.

So: What have you always wondered about Pittsburgh? Are you curious how your neighborhood originally received its name? Or maybe why the Mon and Allegheny Rivers are different colors when they merge at the Point? Or maybe you've always wanted to know what happened to all of our street cars and inclines? From serious to silly, we're here to help.

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Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh collection

When Emily Eckel moved to Knoxville, a neighborhood south of downtown Pittsburgh, she was told to buy special subsidence insurance, just in case the abandoned coal mine beneath her house ever caved in. She'd never heard of it.

“I just started imagining this vast maze of coal mines under the city," she said. "I was picturing coal miners going in with a pickaxe or a shovel and a yellow canary and a cage and mining all day. I don’t know if it was like that, and I would like to know.” 

It was not exactly like that, at least not in Pittsburgh.

Megan Harris / 90.5 WESA

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. It was the age of steel, it was the age of annexation.

On any Pittsburgh city map, there is an unlabeled stretch of land between the neighborhoods of Mt. Oliver and Knoxville.